Ford has given us a glimpse of their next-generation communications and entertainment system, SYNC 4, which is faster, easier and simpler than ever to use.
Featuring cloud-based connectivity and conversational voice recognition, SYNC 4 delivers comprehensive search results and more functionality for customers. This includes cloud-based optional navigation to keep up with the latest traffic information, the ability to quickly browse digital owner’s manuals, and wireless compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and AppLink apps from smartphones and mobile devices.
“SYNC has always featured the best of Ford innovation to help our customers stay connected to and manage their busy lives as they move about the world,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development & purchasing officer. “With this new fourth-generation technology, we’ve evolved SYNC into an intelligent, voice-activated, in-vehicle digital assistant.”
Updated Graphic Design and Interface
Ford’s new SYNC 4 system will feature different looks and capabilities depending on the vehicle, screen size and customer needs, and all versions will provide users with the power to multi-task efficiently and view the information they need at the right time without needing to swap or tab through multiple screens.
On all-new available 12-inch screens, multi-tasking will be enabled by splitting the screen into larger and smaller windows. For example, if a customer wants to keep their navigation route on the screen while changing songs, they can choose to display the radio or other streaming music services in the smaller display area. Customers will be able to quickly scroll through nine different features to display as Information on Demand, making SYNC 4 easier to use.
With large 15.5-inch screens, SYNC 4 features the addition of Adaptive Dash Cards. Instead of having to navigate menus every time you want to launch an app, recently used or popular features are listed horizontally underneath the main portion of the screen in individual dash cards. These cards display helpful information such as the next step on your route, but they are interactive as well. You can pause or skip songs directly through the card instead of having to bring up your music player, and similarly you can view your phone status or hang up calls through the card as well.
“No matter what size screen Ford customers choose, they will be getting an experience tailor-made for their vehicle,” said Gary Jablonski, chief engineer for SYNC technology, Ford Motor Company. “SYNC 4 puts these high-definition screens to work not only by offering even crisper displays, but also by making driving easier with new multi-tasking capabilities.”
Connected to the Cloud – To Keep Up With Your Life
Now that every new Ford vehicle comes with optional FordPass Connect™1 with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, cloud connectivity comes standard to SYNC 4.
Navigation is fully connected to and informed by the internet with maps that are frequently refreshed with the latest available traffic and construction information, ensuring customers are getting the most up-to-date info for their routes. Ford also equipped SYNC 4 with optional navigation with the ability to share parking space availability and prices.
By taking advantage of state-of-the-art, cloud-based voice processing, SYNC 4 can understand conversational requests, such as “Find me the best Thai restaurant,” and offer data-based suggestions to drivers. Staying in contact with friends and family also becomes easier, with natural speech recognition enabling communication via SMS and email.
And while SYNC 4 will rely heavily on the cloud, it will still retain on-board processing power to minimize performance issues in dead zones – meaning your road trip is in good hands even when you go off the beaten path.
Available machine learning capability also means SYNC 4 can automatically learn your preferences and make helpful suggestions at the right time based on previous usage. SYNC 4 will make destination suggestions based on your previous navigation behavior and can even prompt you to make phone calls to people that you frequently speak to.
Wireless Phone Connection for Your Favorite Apps
With more customers pairing smartphones and mobile devices to their vehicles, SYNC 4 offers even more convenience by letting customers cut the cord. For the first time, Ford is implementing wireless implementation of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as SYNC AppLink apps such as Waze or Ford+Alexa.
Customers will continue to be able to use both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to enable simultaneous operation of in-vehicle entertainment and mobile device navigation while providing calls, music, and other features to be controlled through the vehicle’s display. Available wireless charging capability also means you can juice up your compatible smartphone even while leaving the cords at home.
In addition to these features, Convenience Controls enabled by AppLink allow for the control of various vehicle features when equipped, right from your smartphone, such as lighting, climate or the radio.
Digital Owner’s Manual
Finding information about your vehicle will also become easier than ever with SYNC 4, which debuts with an all-new digital owner’s manual. Instead of flipping through dozens of pages, the digital owner’s manual will include in-depth information on vehicle features, streamable how-to videos to help you learn, and more – all through a searchable database.
SiriusXM with 360L Makes It Personal
SYNC 4 customers also will be able to take full advantage of SiriusXM with 360L to offer a more personalized experience for every driver.
Customers who take advantage of SiriusXM with 360L can choose from thousands of hours of on demand shows, performances and interviews, available for the first time ever in your car, so you never have to miss a moment of your favorites. People can also get personalized recommendations of channels curated just “for you” based on your listening history and favorites.
Smart By Design
To aid the development of the new interfaces seen in next-generation SYNC, a dedicated Ford team dove into a process that helped them identify meaningful ways to improve the way people interact with their vehicles. The team developed several “customer journeys” – such as someone getting ready for a night on the town or a family preparing for a road trip – as a way to put themselves in the shoes of customers and to determine the most useful improvements.
As part of this research, which included interviewing consumers and gathering their reactions to different features, Ford gained valuable insight into customer preferences around screen size and interface design, as well as the ways in which people want their vehicles to get to know them.
The new SYNC 4 system will be available on select Ford vehicles starting in 2020.